With the election of Bush to the Presidency on November 2nd, the gay community needs to take a long hard deep look at itself. The gay community lost across the board during the 2004 election with the exception of the repeal of the hated Cincinnati law which was so repugnant that even the Roman Catholic Church supported its repeal.
The Republicans kept the White House, increased their control of the House of Representatives, and more ominously increased their numbers in the Senate. The Senate was the safety valve for the gay community which prevented the attempt to amend the Constitution on the issue of gay marriage. I have little doubt that if the proposed amendment passed the senate and went to the states that it would acquire the two thirds of the states needed to pass and become law. With the passage of all eleven state constitutional amendments on this issue during the election, Massachusetts and California might be the only two states to vote it down on a national referral by the Senate.
The national and local GLBT organizations have failed us. They have failed us on so many levels that there needs to be entirely new approach to the defense of the gay community in this country. I have called for a national conference before to include every national glbt organization, and every state organization that wishes to participate. This call to reorganize has been completely ignored in the interests of self-preservation of the individual organizations interests. It can no longer be ignored. The national organizations have budgets in the millions of dollars and surely can afford to put on a two day conference to map out the future of this war.
I once again call for a national summit of all glbt organizations from across the country. In addition, religious organizations, churches, supportive national bodies that represent different religions such as the National Clergy Leadership Conference must be called upon to join the political and civic organizations that come together. Bush won in a large part because most churches backed his election as well as boldly mixing politics in with the conduct of their mission of religion. As an example, in the Scranton Pennsylvania area, Priests in every parish read a three and a half page letter from their Bishop regarding who not to vote for in the Presidential race. No name was used of any candidate that the Bishop and the Vatican opposed but then again they didn’t have to name him. John Kerry was painted as a pro-abortionist, pro-gay, catholic who ignores Church teachings and as such should not receive the votes of any “good” roman catholic. The concept and democratic value of separation of church and state was boldly assassinated during this election, and with no consequence having to be paid by the offending churches. Remember, Bush asked both the Pope and the Southern Protestant organizations to assist with his election. They complied.
Make no mistake about it: Most Churches, the Vatican, and the entire Bush administration have declared war on the gay community. They will attempt to roll back every right under the Constitution that we have gained, and drive us back into a world of dark fear and repression. It is time to get serious about the fight we find ourselves in by now joining our political organizations, our social organizations, along with churches that support the true meaning of Christianity, and present a united front to this nation. The forces that oppose our rights to equality must be made to understand that we will not tolerate being pushed back into the closet, no matter what the cost to us as individuals or as a minority. As the old saying goes, “Fight fire with fire.” Why then is supportive religion left out of the national debate?
Remember, there are more members of the glbt community then there are evangelical Christians in this country. It is a fact that there are more glbt people then Jewish citizens. Even when you subtract the astounding figure of 20% of the gay community who once again voted for Bush and his policies, we are a very powerful segment of this society that the political and religious right will have to deal with on an equal basis — – IF we start to cooperate with each other and bury individual and group egos. Based on the current population of the United States, it is reasonable to say that at least Thirteen million Americans are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. This figure represents a very conservative 5% estimate on the population numbers and therefore is more then likely low. When you add supportive family and friends, we could easily be a block of 20 million or more Americans demanding equality. How long will we remain impotent?
We must reorganize our national and state strategy to include all of our friends in this war. In addition to churches, organization coordination with such groups as PFLAG and labor unions must take place. We have to start using our brains and our money to force the system to treat us with equality, or be condemned to live as a repressed minority. When we accept victimization as our role, we spit on the sacrifices made by our gay brothers and sisters who have gone before us, some of whom gave their lives. Let’s face it: HRC, NGLTF, GLAAD, and other groups will not willingly seek each other out to cooperate on a national front for freedom. They need to be forced by the demands of their members to do so. There has never been an attempt to unite all factions of the gay community under one umbrella with a coordinated agenda. Isn’t it time? Are you willing to accept the role of willing victim? It is time to act and act NOW. In just two short years, a freshman Senator who is an arch-enemy of the gay community and a possible successor to George Bush is up for reelection: Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. What are you willing to do to assist in returning him to obscurity?
Author of The Gay Face of God and If He’s Queer He Musta Done It, Archbishop Bruce J. Simpson, OSJB studied at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and Catholic University of America and was ordained a priest in 1996 by the Reformed Catholic Church and consecrated bishop in 1999. He went on to serve as the Archbishop Protector of the Benedictine Order of St. John the Beloved, the oldest Old Catholic Benedictine order in the United States.